Giros, contra-giros and following with Los Ocampos

Los Ocampos.jpg

Only a tango couple could spend their third anniversary at a tango workshop …

Steph loved the teachers – Omar Ocampo and Monica Romero, aka Los Ocampos – and I’m of the view that I can never have too many giro lessons. Plus it was organised by Queer Tango London, so we were assured of good company.

The class covered a version of the giro which turned out to be the first one Steph had ever learned, but which I’d never been taught before. At its simplest, it was:

  • Leader back diagonal step, leading follower side-step
  • Leader collects, leads follower forward step
  • Leader pivots on both feet, leads follower side-step
  • Leader completes pivot, enters walk, leading follower back-step

It felt slightly confusing at first as it seemed to be three steps rather than four, but then I realised that the follower does complete a full sequence of side-forward-side-back – it’s just that the back step then becomes the first step of the walk.

The first variation was to do the same thing clockwise rather than anti-clockwise. It felt slightly trickier, but I think that would just be a matter of practice.

Next was the original version with a sacada on the follower’s second side-step. I don’t have much experience of sacadas, but this one actually felt relatively easy.

I’ve always understood intellectually that a sacada is an illusion; that you are stepping into the space the follower is leaving, though my only practical experience of a foot sacada is, I think, a sequence in the forward ocho where I then step around her into a parada. But this one made perfect sense: because the follower is pivoting around into her back-step, the illusion of taking her space and’ forcing’ the turn is quite convincing.

There was then a version with two sacadas. Steph had already ducked out before the version with one, chatting instead to a friend, and I decided to do the same at this point! I do think the two-sacada version would make sense to me once I’d had enough practice at the single-sacada sequence, but attempting it now wasn’t going to be pretty.

I’d already had enough challenge for one evening: being a Queer Tango event, everyone swapped roles, so I was learning to follow as well as lead the sequence! That was … challenging. I did have to let everyone know that they’d need to use some combination of brute force and telekinesis to lead me.

It was, though, very useful as well as comedic. In particular, I found one of Omar’s following tips for the giro made a huge difference: just follow the leader’s shoulder. Once I started doing that, it made it much more obvious which direction I needed to go, and that was really 60% of the lead. It was really helpful to get such a practical demonstration of that.

The teachers are great fun, and the QTL crowd as friendly as can be, so it was a lovely evening.

More tango tomorrow, of course, at the Tango Space milonga, where Mara Ovieda will once again be DJing. Should be good!

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